Eve to the Rescue
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Eve to the Rescue

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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Eve to the Rescue, by Ethel Hueston, Illustrated by Dudley Gloyme Summers This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Eve to the Rescue Author: Ethel Hueston Release Date: June 24, 2008 [eBook #25892] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EVE TO THE RESCUE*** E-text prepared by Roger Frank and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net) “You get nicer every day of your life.” Eve to the Rescue BY ETHEL HUESTON AUTHOR OF PRUDENCE OF THE PARSONAGE, PRUDENCE SAYS SO, LEAVE IT TO DORIS, E TC . ILLUSTRATED BY DUDLEY GLOYME SUMMERS G R O S S E T & D U PUBLISHERS NEW YORK Made in the United States of America C OPYRIGHT 1920 THE BOBBS-MERRILL C OMPANY Printed in the United States of America To Carol Who came to us in the form of Duty, but who has brought us only Pleasure CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE I IN D EFIANCE OF D UTY II THE C OTE IN THE C LOUDS III EVERYBODY’ S D UTY IV THE IRISH-AMERICAN LEAGUE V H ER INHERITANCE VI A WRONG ADJUSTMENT VII PAINFUL D UTY VIII SHE MEETS A D EMONSTRATOR IX ADMITTING D EFEAT X THE ORIGINAL FIXER XI THE GERM OF D UTY XII THE R EVOLT OF THE SEVENTH STEP XIII SHE FINDS A FOREIGNER XIV N EW LIGHT ON LOYALTY XV SERVICE OF JOY XVI MARIE ENCOUNTERS THE SECRET SERVICE 11 21 30 40 59 84 98 112 124 137 156 175 195 214 226 248 XVII SPONTANEOUS C OMBUSTION XVIII C ONVERTS OF LOVE XIX SHE D OUBTS H ER THEORY XX SHE PROVES H ER PRINCIPLE XXI H ER ONE EXCEPTION 266 282 301 312 332 EVE TO THE RESCUE EVE TO THE RESCUE CHAPTER I IN DEFIANCE OF DUTY “To-morrow being Saturday afternoon,” began Eveley, deftly slipping a dish of sweet pickles beyond the reach of the covetous fat fingers of little niece Nathalie,—“to-morrow being Saturday afternoon—” “Doesn’t to-morrow start at sunrise as usual?” queried her brother-in-law curiously. “As every laborer knows,” said Eveley firmly, “Saturday begins with the afternoon off. And I am a laborer. Therefore, to-morrow being Saturdayafternoon-off, and since I have trespassed on your hospitality for a period of two months, it behooves me to find me a home and settle down.” “Oh, Eveley,” protested her sister in a soft troubled voice, “don’t be disagreeable. You talk as if we were strangers. Aren’t we the only folks you have? And aren’t you my own and only baby sister? If you can’t live with us, where can you live?” “As it says in the Bible,” explained Eveley, truthfully if unscripturally, “no two families are small enough for one house.” “But who calls you a family?” interrupted the brother-in-law. “I do. And nice and sweet as you all are, and adorable as I am well aware am I, all of you and all of me can not be confined to one house.” “But we have counted on it,” persisted Winifred earnestly. “We have looked forward to it. We have always said that you would come to us when Aunt Eloise died,—and she did—and you must. We—we expect it.” “‘England expects every man to do his duty,’” quoted Burton in a sepulchral voice. Then Eveley rose in her place, tall and formidable. “That is it,—duty. Then let me announce right now, once and for all, Burton Raines and Winifred, eternally and everlastingly, I do not believe in duty. No one shall do his duty by 11 12 me. I publicly protest against it. I won’t have it. I have had my sneaking suspicions of duty for a long time, and lately I have been utterly convinced of the folly and the sin of it. Whenever any one has anything hateful or disagreeable to do, he draws a long voice and says it is his duty. It seems that every mean thing in the world is somebody’s duty. Duty has been the curse of civilization for lo, these many years!” Then she sat down. “Please pass the jam.” “Oh, all right, all right,” said Burton amiably, “have it your own way, by all means. Henceforth and forever after, we positively decline to do our duty by you. But what is our duty to you? Answer me that, and then I guarantee not to do it.” “It is our duty to keep Eveley right here with us and take care of her,” said Winifred, with as much firmness as her soft voice could master. “She is ours, and we are hers, and it is our duty to stand between her and a hard world.” “You can’t. In the first place I am awfully stuck on the world, and want to get real chummy with it. Any one who tries to stand between it and me, shall be fired out bodily, head first.” “Oh, Eveley,” came a sudden wail from Winifred, “you can’t go off and live by yourself. What will people think? They will say we could not get along together.” “That is it,—just that and nothing more. It isn’t duty that bothers you—it is What-will-people-think? An exploded theory, nothing more.” Then she smiled at her sister winsomely. “You positively are the sweetest thing, Winnie. And your Burton I absolutely love. And your babies are the most irresistible angels that ever came to bless and—enliven—a sordid world. But you are a family by yourselves. You are used to doing what you want, and when you want, and how you want. I would be an awful nuisance. When Burton would incline to a quiet evening, I should have a party. When you and he would like to slip off to a movie, you would have to be polite and invite me. Nobody could be crazier about nieces and nephews than I am, but sometimes if I were tired from my work their chatter might make me peevish. And you would punish them when I thought you shouldn’t, and wouldn’t do it when I thought you should, and think of the arguments there would be. And so we all agree, don’t we, that it would be more fun for me to move off by myself and then come to see you and be company,—rather than stick around under your feet until you grow deadly tired of me?” “I do not agree,” said Winifred. “I do,” said Burton. “Then we are a majority, and it is all settled.” “But where in the world will you live, dear? You could not stand a boardinghouse.” “I could if I had to, but I don’t have to. I have been favored with an inspiration. I can’t imagine how it ever happened, but perhaps it was a special dispensation to save you from me. I am going to live in my own house on Thorn Street. Of course it will be lonely there at first, since Aunt Eloise is gone—but just listen to this. I shall rent the down-stairs part to a small family and I shall live upstairs. Part of the furniture I am going to sell, use what I want to furnish my 13 14 15 16 dove cote in the clouds, and the rest that is too nice to sell but can’t be used I shall store in the east bedroom, which I won’t use. That will leave me three rooms and a bath—bedroom, sitting-room and dining-room. I can fix up a corner of the dining-room into a kitchen with my electric percolator and grills and things. Isn’t it a glorious idea? And aren’t you surprised that I thought of anything so clever by myself?” “Not half bad,” said Burton approvingly,—for Burton had long since learned that the pleasantest way of keeping friends with in-laws is by perpetual approval. “But you can never find a small family to take the down-stairs part of the house,” came pessimistically from Winifred. “Oh, but I have found it, and they are in the house already. A bride and groom. The cunningest things! She calls him Dody, and they hold hands. And I sold part of the furniture yesterday, and had the rest moved up-stairs. But there is one thing more.” “I thought so,” said Burton grimly. “I remember the Saturday-afternoon-off. I thought perhaps you had me in mind for your furniture-heaver. But since that is done it is evident you have something far more deadly in store for me. Let me know the worst, quickly.” “Well, you know, dearie,” said Eveley in most seductively sweet tones, “you know how the house is built. There is only one stairway, and it rises directly from the west room down-stairs. Unfortunately, my bride and groom wish to use that room for a bedroom. Now you can readily perceive that a young and unattached female could not in conscience—not even in my conscience —utilize a stairway emanating from the boudoir of a bridal party. And there you are!” “I am no carpenter,” Burton shouted quickly, when Eveley’s voice drifted away into an apologetic murmur. “Get that idea out of your head right away. I don’t know a nail from a hammer.” “No, Burtie, of course you don’t,” she said soothingly. “But this will be very simple. I thought of a rambling, rustic stairway outside the house, in the back yard. You know the sun parlor was an afterthought, only one story high with a flat roof. So the rustic stairway could go up to the roof of the sun parlor, and I could make that up into a sort of roof garden. Wouldn’t it be picturesque and pretty?” “But there is no door from your room to the roof of the sun parlor,” objected Burton. “No, but the window is very wide. I will just cover it with portières and things, and I am quite active so I can get in and out very nicely. And when I get around to it, and have the money, I may have a French window put in.” “But, Eveley, I can’t build a stairway. I don’t know how to build anything. I couldn’t build a box.” “But you do not have to do this alone, Burtie. Just the foundation, that is all I expect of you. You will have lots of assistance. Not experienced help perhaps, but enthusiastic, and ‘love goes in with every nail,’—that sort of thing. I have sent invitations to all of my friends of the masculine persuasion, and we have 18 17 19 started a competition. Each admirer is to build two steps according to his own design and plan, and the one who builds most artistically is to receive, not my hand and heart, but a lovely dinner cooked on my grill in my private diningroom. I have the list here. I figured that twelve steps will be enough. Nolan Inglish, two. Lieutenant Ames, two. Captain Hardin, two. Jimmy Weaver, two. Dick Fairwether, two. Arnold Bender, two. Arnold is Kitty’s beau, but she guaranteed two steps for him. Won’t it be lovely?” “To-morrow being Saturday afternoon,” said Burton bitterly. “I ordered the rustic lumber last night, and it was delivered to-day.” “And you consider it my duty as the luckless husband of your long-suffering sister, to lay the foundation for the wabbly, rattly ramshackle stairs your pet assortment of moonstruck admirers will build for you?” “Not your duty, Burtie, certainly not your duty. But your pleasure and your great joy. For without the stairway, I can not live there. And if I do not live there, I must live here. And remember. When you want vaudeville, I will incline to grand opera. When you would enjoy a movie, I shall have a musicale here at home. When you are in the midst of a novel, I shall insist on a three-handed game of bridge. When you are ready to shave, I shall need the hot water. When your appetite calls for corned beef and cabbage, my soul shall require lettuce sandwiches and iced tea. Not your duty, dear, by any means. I do not believe in duty.” “Quite right, sweet sister,” he said pleasantly. “It shall afford me infinite pleasure, I assure you. And to-morrow being Saturday afternoon, you shall have your stairway.” 20 21 CHAPTER II THE COTE IN THE CLOUDS As Eveley had prophesied, what her carpenters lacked in experience and skill was more than compensated by their ambition and their eagerness to please. On Saturday afternoon her back yard was a veritable bee-hive of industry. The foundation was in readiness for the handiwork of love, for Burton Raines, feeling that he could not concentrate on business in such sentimental environs, explained patiently that he was only an ordinary married man and that love rhapsodies to the tune of temperamental hammering upset him. So he had taken the morning off from his own business, to lay the foundation for the rustic stairway. Nolan Inglish, listed first because he was always listed first with Eveley, appeared at eleven o’clock, having explained to the lofty members of the law firm of which he was a junior assistant, that serious family matters required his attention. This enabled him to have the two bottom-most steps of the stairway, 22 comprising his portion, erected and ready for inspection by the time Eveley arrived home from her work. He said he had felt it would be lonely for her to sit around by herself while everybody else worked for her, and having provided against that exigency by doing his labor in advance, he claimed the privilege of officiating as entertainer-in-chief for the entire afternoon. Arnold Bender appeared next, accompanied by Kitty Lampton, one of Eveley’s pet and particular friends. Although Kitty was extremely generous in proffering the services of her friend in behalf of Eveley’s stairway, she frankly stated that she was not willing to expose any innocent young man of her possession to the wiles and smiles of her attractive friend, without herself on hand to counteract any untoward influence. Captain Hardin and Lieutenant Ames came together with striking military éclat, accompanied, as became their rank, by two alert enlisted men. After introducing their enlisted men in the curt official manner of the army and having set them grandly to work on the rustic stairway, Captain Hardin and Lieutenant Ames immediately took up a social position in the tiny rosebowered pergola, with Eveley and Kitty and Nolan and the lemonade. A little later, Jimmy Weaver rattled up in his small striped gaudy car, followed presently by Dick Fairwether on a noisy motorcycle. They took out their personal sets of tools from private recesses of their machines and plunged eagerly into the contest. So the afternoon started most auspiciously and all would doubtless have gone well and peacefully, had not Captain Hardin most unfortunately selected an exceptionally good-looking young soldier for his service,—a tall, slender, darkskinned youth, with merry melting eyes. Eveley never attempted to deny that she could not resist merry melting eyes. So she left the young officers and Kitty and Nolan and the lemonade in the rose-bowered pergola on the edge of the canyon which sloped down abruptly on the east side, and herself went up to superintend the building of her stairway. The handsome one required an inordinate amount of superintending. The other soldier detailed by Lieutenant Ames, an ordinary young man with a sensible face and eyes that saw only hammer and nails, got along very well by himself. But the handsome youth, called Buddy Gillian, required supervision on every point. He first consulted Eveley about the design of the two steps entrusted to him for construction. He could think of as many as two dozen different styles of rustic steps, and he explained and illustrated them all to Eveley in great detail, drawing plans in the gravel path. It took the two of them nearly an hour to make a selection, and then it seemed the style they had chosen was the most difficult of the entire assortment, and was practically impossible for any one to construct alone. So Eveley perforce assisted, holding the rustic boughs while he hammered, carrying the saw, and carefully picking out the proper size of nails as he required them. “Didn’t you have more sense than to bring a good-looker?” Nolan asked Captain Hardin in a fretful voice. “Don’t you know that Eveley can’t resist good looks?” “I told him he had no business to bring Gillian,” put in the lieutenant. “Look at Muggs, whom I brought. Nobody notices that Muggs needs any help. See there now, he has finished and is ready to go. Can’t you do something to stop 23 24 25 this, Miss Lampton?” he pleaded, turning to Kitty. “As long as she leaves my Arnold alone, I shall mind my own business,” said Kitty decidedly. “If I cut in on her affair with your Buddy, she will try her hand on Arnold to get even. Captain Hardin got you into this, it is up to him to get you out.” And Kitty heartlessly left the pergola and went up to the rustic steps to hold the hammer for Arnold. Then Captain Hardin, after rapidly drinking three glasses of iced lemonade to drown his chagrin and to strengthen his flagging courage, left the cozy pergola which had no attraction for any of them with Eveley out at work on the rustic stairway, and went up to the corner where she and Buddy Gillian were carefully and conscientiously matching bits of rustic lumber. “I do not think I should keep you any longer, Gillian, since Muggs is ready to go,” he said kindly. “I can finish this myself now, thank you.” “Yes, sir,” said Buddy Gillian courteously, and stood up. Then to Eveley, “Shall I gather up the scraps, Miss Ainsworth, and tidy the lawn for you? It is pretty badly littered. Only too glad to be of service, if I may.” “Oh, thank you, Mr. Gillian, that is sweet of you,” said Eveley gratefully. “Suppose we begin down in that corner by the rose pergola, and gather up the scraps as we come this way. I’ll carry this basket, and you can do the picking.” But even this humble field of usefulness was denied Private Gillian, for Lieutenant Ames came out from the pergola and said with official briskness, “Oh, never mind that, Gillian. I can help Miss Ainsworth with it. You’d better run along with Muggs and enjoy your liberty period. Much obliged to you, I am sure.” So the handsome Buddy looked deep into Eveley’s eyes, and sighed. Eveley held out her hand. “You have done just beautifully,” she said, “and helped me so much. And when are you coming to tell me the rest of that thrilling story of your life in the trenches?” “The question is, when may I?” “Well, Tuesday evening? Or can you get off on Tuesday?” “Oh, yes, since the war is over we can get off any night. Tuesday will suit me fine.” “Sorry, Gillian,” put in Captain Hardin grimly. “But unfortunately I have arranged for a company school on Tuesday night—to be conducted by Lieutenant Carston.” Gillian turned his beautiful eyes on Eveley, eyes no longer merry but sad and wistful. “Let me see,” puzzled Eveley promptly. “Could you come to-morrow night then, Mr. Gillian? Captain won’t mind changing with you, I know, and he can come on Tuesday. Captains can always get away, can’t they? Is that all right? —Then to-morrow evening, about eight. And I will have a little evening supper all ready for you. Good-by.” 26 27 28 After he had gone she said to the captain apologetically, “Hasn’t he wonderful eyes? And I knew he must be quite all right for me to know, or you would never have introduced him.” Taken all in all, only Kitty Lampton and Eveley considered the raising of the rustic stairway an entire success, although there was much light talk and laughter as they ate the dainty supper the girls had prepared for them in the Cloud Cote, as Eveley had already christened her home above the earth. But the men, with the exception of Nolan, were doomed to disappointment. When Dick Fairwether asked her to go to a movie with him in the evening, and when Jimmy Weaver invited her to go for a night drive with him along the beach, and when Captain Hardin suggested that she accompany him to the Columbine dance at the San Diego, and when Lieutenant Ames wanted to make a foursome with Kitty and Arnold to go boating, she said most regretfully to each,—“Isn’t it a shame? But my sister is having some kind of a silly club there to-night, and I promised to go.” But to Nolan, very secretly she whispered: “Now you trot along to the office and work and when I am ready to come home I will phone you to come and get me. And we will initiate the Cloud Cote all by ourselves.” So the little party broke up almost immediately after supper, with deep avowals of gratitude on the part of Eveley, and equally deep assurances of pleasure and good will on the part of the others. After they had gone, as Eveley inspected her stairway alone, she was comforted by the thought that she could fairly smother it with vines and all sorts of creeping and climbing things, and the casual comer would not notice how funny and wabbly it was. But as she went gingerly down, clinging desperately to the rail on both sides, she determined to take out an accident policy immediately, with a special clause governing rustic stairways. 29 30 CHAPTER III EVERYBODY’S DUTY Due to the old-fashioned, rambling style of the house, the rustic stairway did not really detract from its beauty. And as there were already clambering vines and roses in profusion, an extra arbor more or less, could, as Eveley claimed, pass without serious comment. Although the house was old, it was still exquisitely beautiful, with its cream white pillars and columns showing behind the mass of green. And the lawn, which was no lawn but only a natural park running riot with foliage coaxed into endless lovers’ nooks and corners, was a fitting and marvelously beautiful setting for it. The gardens were in the shape of a triangle, with conventional paved streets on the north and west, but on the east and south they drifted away into the shadowy canyon which stretched down almost to the bay, and came out on 31